Asylum of the Daleks
Okay, all the newbies gone? Good. Doctor Who's season 7 opener, Asylum of the Daleks was a solid start to what will hopefully be a fun season. When we last left the Doctor, he'd cheated death and lied about it to boot. As far as the universe was concerned, he was dead for real. But this being a new season and all, it's not really something the episode deals with. Instead it focuses on reconnecting the Doctor with companions Amy and Rory and dealing with the return of the Daleks.
Right from the start it's established that things aren't as happy between Amy and Rory as we last left them. In fact, "disastrous" would be the better word. For one, apparently black leather and overly slick hair is the fashion statement for gloom and doom, as the two resembled cyberpunk rejects for most of the episode. Between that and the divorce papers, it seemed like the end of the once-happy couple was coming sooner rather than later. I almost thought we'd find out that something was wrong with time and space, and that the Doctor would need to fix it to get them back together. Thankfully, the truth was less predictable than that, as the two had some real relationship problems to sort out. It was nice to see the show skip over sci-fi excuses for a bit, and the Doctor's solution to the problem was still as clever as always. By the end of the episode, the bond between the trio was restored and I was pulled back in.
Along the way we see the Daleks make their return. Their hiatus was meant as a way to give some other Doctor Who creatures a spotlight, and I have to say the time without them was welcome. The return was still a bit too soon in my mind, but the writers manage to spin an interesting tale and show a side of the Daleks we haven't seen.
The Doctor is forced to help the Daleks destroy their own island of misfit toys, a planet where broken Daleks are imprisoned. This leads to all kinds of shenanigans, from human-Dalek imposters (Battlestar Dalektica?) to crazed Daleks and hallucinations. His only help in all this is a woman named Oswin Oswald, a computer hacker with a sassy personality. In the end (spoilers!), she ultimately turns out to be a Dalek but doesn't even know it.
Now here's where things get interesting. If you've been following Doctor Who news you know Oswin is played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, who is set to become the new companion to the Doctor in this year's Christmas special. Not only is she revealed to be a Dalek, but she's then blown up when the asylum is destroyed. It's going to be very interesting to see how she goes from blown-up Dalek to the Doctor's companion, and I imagine that will be the burning question for viewers in the coming months.
Overall, it wasn't the best episode of Doctor Who, but Asylum of the Daleks was good enough to get me pumped for the rest of the season. While the story of Amy and Rory was touching, and Oswin brought some interesting twists to the journey, this episode spent a bit too long meandering around the same dull corridors over and over. The second episode, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, will hopefully ditch the dull moments and leather jackets in favor of, well, dinosaurs on a damn spaceship!
I imagine there are two types of people reading this article. Those who have already watched Asylum of the Daleks, the first episode of series 7 of Doctor Who, and those who have never watched Doctor Who but are curious. Because the show only recently turned me from a complete skeptic into a frothing fanatic, I will try to address the newbies first. Here's what's up:
A Quick Newbie Guide to Doctor Who
The main thing you need to know about Doctor Who is that it's about an eccentric and silly man called The Doctor that travels through space and time in a police call box. He is a Time Lord, and more or less the last of his kind. He also likes to take human companions on his adventures, which usually changes their lives forever and puts them in a ton of danger. Sometimes the Doctor dies and comes back as a new actor in a process called regeneration (or the end of TV show contracts). Currently the series is in a bit of a transition. We know this is the last season for the Doctor's current companions, and a new companion will be introduced soon.
But where do you start?
Honestly, I think starting from this episode would be a bad move, which is why I'm making a point to address it. While Doctor Who episodes can be enjoyable on their own, it's a show that gets better when you're invested in the main character's journeys. This new season is the closing act for some of the best characters the show has ever seen, and it would be a shame to miss out on the build-up. That leaves you with three options:
1) Be a crazy person and watch the show from its very beginning in the 60s. But seriously that's over 700 episodes and you'd have to be extremely bored.
2) Attack the show from season one of the reboot that's currently airing. It's still daunting, but it's also the most rewarding way to watch the show.
3) Start from season 5, when a new Doctor and new companion are introduced. This is probably the point in the series with the least baggage from previous seasons and it's also the point where the quality of the show jumps exponentially. Previous seasons are extremely hit and miss, but when Steven Moffat (of Sherlock fame) took the reins, the worst episodes went from "appallingly bad" to "just okay" and the best episodes went from "wow that was surprisingly awesome" to "that was completely brilliant television!"
Whichever choice you make, get caught up to the rest of us and come back to GameZone every week for another episode discussion. Everyone else can continue to the next page for some words on the actual episode.